Why use a first-round draft pick when you can just simply have Matt Dumba instead?
With the No. 13 pick of the annual SB Nation NHL Mock Draft, the Philadelphia Flyers select…
Because they traded their first-round pick, along with prospect Elliot Desnoyers, to the Minnesota Wild for defenseman Matt Dumba! Surprise!
It’s no secret that the Flyers desperately need to improve defensively this offseason. And while another year of experience could be what some of their young blueliners need, this isn’t the offseason to take a “wait and see” approach. The Flyers need immediate improvements from their defensemen, and the best way to help accelerate that process is by acquiring a veteran NHLer with a proven track record of success.
Dumba certainly checks that box.
Still just 26 years old (he turns 27 later this month), Dumba has cemented himself as a fan favorite in Minnesota since becoming a regular in the Wild lineup during the 2014-15 season. Not only is Dumba a high-end second-pair defenseman capable of playing in any situation, but he’s also an outstanding locker room presence and just a generally stellar human being. He won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy after the 2019-20 season for his charitable work, as well as his efforts of bringing awareness to North America’s ongoing racial inequality issues.
And, for what it’s worth, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher selected Dumba with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, so the two are very familiar with one another.
All in all, Dumba is a serviceable player who would make an instant impact in an area of need for the Flyers. It wasn’t all that long ago that Dumba was on pace to score 30 goals as a 24-year-old — something no NHL defenseman has done since Mike Green pulled it off in 2008-09. Unfortunately, Dumba’s breakout campaign was derailed by a ruptured pectoralis muscle, causing him to miss the final 50 games of the season. Dumba hasn’t come anywhere close to hitting 30 goals in a season since his pectoral injury — he scored just six goals in both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 season — but he’s remained a key offensive contributor for the Wild at both 5-on-5 and on the power play.
Still, that’s not to say Dumba is much of an advanced metrics darling. In fact, a quick peak at the numbers shows that the fancy stats weren’t all too kind to Dumba in 2019-20. While he ranked third on the Wild in ice time, Dumba wasn’t the most efficient play-driver (48.67 CF%, 47.86 GF% at 5-on-5) and even struggled at times to appear on the scoresheet — he only registered 24 points in 69 games that season.
Things started to turn around for Dumba this past season, though. Despite still not being much of a standout in the advanced stats community, he was much more consistent offensively (21 points in 51 games) and continued to play big minutes for the Wild in shorthanded situations.
Dumba is far from a perfect hockey player, but all things considered, he’s a fairly well-rounded defenseman. There are qualities of his game that will drive fans crazy — shooting pucks high and wide from the point being a big one — but he also plays with a ton of physicality and may still have some untapped offensive potential.
Draft picks are lottery tickets, and that will be particularly true in this year’s draft, which is widely considered to offer a weaker-than-normal class of prospects. Dumba, while by no means a Norris Trophy contender — at least right now — is a very good second-pair defenseman who’s great in the locker room and still in the prime of his career. For a first-round pick and a player selected in the fifth round of last year’s draft, the Flyers could certainly do much worse.
Note: This trade was executed before the Wild opted to buy out the contracts of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, making Dumba far less likely to be moved this offseason.